Tag: Portland OR

Comprised of Henry Hill Kammerer (guitar, vocals) and John Johnson (drums, percussion), the Portland, OR-based folk and blues duo Hillstomp have received attention regionally and nationally for a gritty and sincere,  rock ‘n’ roll-take on Americana/roots music that draws from hill country blues stomp, North Mississippi trance blues, Appalachian folk and blues, rockabilly and punkabiliy played on a drum kit made from assorted buckets, cans, BBQ lids and other ephemera and slide guitar. And over their 17 years together, the duo have toured with Reverend Horton Heat, JOVM mainstays The Devil Makes Three, and Southern Culture on the Skids among others.

Slated for an October 19, 2018 release through their longtime label home Fluff and Gravy Records, Kammerer and Johnson’s sixth full-length Hillstomp album Monster Receiver was recorded by Juniana Lanning and John Shepski with mixing engineer john Askew — and the album finds the band pushing their sound and songwriting into even more experimental territory with the album’s material seamlessly flowing from grungy folk, garage rock and intimate and tender ballads while featuring guest spots from Anna Tivel (violin), Hook & Anchor‘s Eric Clampitt (pedal steel) and I Can Lick Any Son of a Bitch in the House’s David Lipkind (harmonica). Interestingly, the album’s first single “Hagler,” is a grimy, psych blues stomp centered around shuffling drumming, chugging guitar and an explosive guitar solo that recalls the North Mississippi All Stars and fellow labelmate Drunken Prayer as its full of piss, vinegar and whiskey.

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New Video: Girl Skin Releases a Moving and Mediative Ballad

A day after covering OctFest and I somehow feel almost every single second of my age. Everything hurts — and in completely different ways: my ankles and feet feel as though they’re on file while my left shoulder throbs and so on. But I had some fantastic international beers, ate a lot of good food, saw some great music, stood in the rain for hours on end and photographed a ton of stuff; so it was worth it in the end. But let’s get to business, eh? 

Led by singer/songwriter and creative mastermind Sid Simons, the Brooklyn-based collective Girl Skin features a rotating cast of collaborators that includes Bailey Blu (drums, piano, vocals), Sophie Cozine (vocals), Al Nardo (bass), Stan Simons (vocals) and Ruby Wang (violin), the act meshes elements of folk and art rock in what the band describes as “lemon pop” — with the material thematically and emotionally drawing from Simons’ personal experiences: Simons was born in Portland, spent his childhood in Australia and New York, his teens in Shanghai, China — and instead of finishing high school, he went on a rambling cross country road trip of the States. 

The band’s latest effort, LoveMore EP was released earlier this year, and it found Sid Simons and company collaborating with his lover and muse Foster James. Reportedly, the band is currently working on a full-length album that is tentatively slated for release early next year; but in the meantime, the band’s latest single “Bite Real Hard” is a moody and slow-burning ballad with a rousingly anthemic hook that recalls Psychic Ills and The Rolling Stones as it shifts from slow-burning ballad to power chord-fueled, arena rock ballad, complete with the bittersweet air that comes from lived-in experience. As Girl Skin’s Sid Simons explains. ” When I was 19, I skipped school and took my Chevy Astro van on a 22 State, 12,000 mile odyssey around the USA. While I was out there, meandering around the back roads of America, I learned my Uncle, who had given me my first lessons on the guitar, had become sick with cancer. There I was searching for stories, looking for songs and myself, and one came right up and found me. Bite Real Hard is my song of respect, hope and an offer of strength to one of the most important people in my life.”

Directed by  Idle House, the recently released video begins with Simons walking through marsh before he encounters his bandmates — with each bandmate handing Simons something: the first hands him a cowboy hat, the second a lit cigarette, the last member a handful of flower before walking together to the shore; but at the shore, the bandmates pick up their respective instruments while Simons continues to walk onward into the sea, where he casually drops the things his bandmates hand him. It’s a remarkably pensive and moody video that emphasizes the song’s moody vibe. 

Ezza Rose is a Julian, CA-born, Portland, OR-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of her musical career to being a small child, playing tambourine along with her father’s band. Shortly after, she found a CB drum set under the Christmas tree — and unsurprisingly, the young Rose became the only female punk rock drummer in her town of about 1,500. When she went to college, the drum set didn’t fit in her dorm room, so she picked up a guitar and began writing songs of her own. As the story goes, during a holiday break from her performing arts conservatory, Rose and a friend hitchhiked to Portland to check out the city’s arts scene, and the trip inspired her to eventually relocate.

Bandmate Craig Rupert relocated to Portland roughly a year later with the members of an East coast roots rock band. Rupert met Rose and her bandmate Ray Johnson, who was playing in Winterhaven while they were all playing on the same bill.  Soon all three were playing in Winterhaven, and after the band split up, Rose asked her former bandmates to play in a new project bearing her name. Interestingly, with 2015’s When The Water’s Hot was a sonic departure for the band, as it found them moving from the acoustic folk of their previous efforts and back towards Rose’s roots in rock, fueled by the frustrations of an unjust social climate.

The band’s fourth full-length album No Means No is slated for a September 21, 2018 release through Culture Collide Records, and the album finds the band encompassing the widest and most diverse array of sound and styles they’ve ever recorded — while being centered around a deep well of a lifetime of things silenced and buried within. “Baby Come Down,” No Means No‘s latest single is a slow-burning pop ballad that recalls 50s and 60s country and pop — The Hollies, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and others immediately come to mind with this stripped down song, while being a wistful observation over how society is now perpetually distracted from even the most important, intimate moments of our lives.

 

New Video: Kind of Rider’s Elegiac and Atmospheric Ode to Loss and Hope

Initially formed in  Tulsa, OK, the indie act No Kind of Rider, which is comprised of  Sam Alexander, Wes Johnson, Jeremy Louis, Joe Page and Jon Van Patten has developed a reputation for a genre-defying sound that draws from indie rock, shoegaze, R&B, indie rock and electro pop. Currently, the band has members split between Portland, OR and Brooklyn but before that the members of the band spent several years writing, playing an hustling hard, hoping for a moment. “Working like that can break your heart,” the band’s frontman Sam Alexander says in a lengthy statement written by him and his bandmates.

Interestingly, the Portland and Brooklyn-based act’s recently released full-length debut Savage Coast draws from several years of difficult, life-altering experiences. As the band says, “there are things we have been during to say, and this record is a release emotionally for us. Both musically and lyrically we focus on ‘change’ a lot in this record.We use as many synthesizers and electronic samples as we do guitars and drums.  We want the listener to both feel comfortable and continuously be surprised.”  In fact, that sense of change throughout the album was inspired by the life altering transitions within the individual band member’s personal lives: Joe Page’s father suddenly died two years before the band entered the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their full-length debut. And as Sam Alexander notes, the year that Page’s father died, was the same year he had gotten married. This was followed by the sudden death of Wes Johnson’s father, Jon Van Patten’s relocation to Brooklyn and Alexander’s own father suffering a stroke. “There’s been so may times in the last few years where I got stuck in my head: ‘Do other artists go through all this while making a record? Is this some kind of curse?’ For a long time I used to think of music as my path out of a difficult reality. I don’t anymore. Now, writing music is what keeps me rooted in my reality, it’s what lets me live with more presence and attention,” Alexander says.

“This isn’t a concept album,” Alexander and his bandmates continues. “But it does tell a story. We want the listener to uncover that story for themselves. However, a part of it is our story. Our loves, our friendships, our triumph, our losses. The story wouldn’t have happened without our move from Oklahoma to Oregon. We slept on friends floors and rehearsed in basements. I have over 300 hours of voice memos from our rehearsals down there!  Even though we recorded at incredible studios with talented friends, when I listen: I somehow still hear us in that moldy basement. I still hear the first time we pulled over on hwy 101 and saw the jagged wounds of the Pacific coastline.  Creatively, Joe actually drove out to Haystack Rock on the coast with a tape recorded – he designed new sounds and he embedded them into the tracks, so some of that is the actual article.  Most of it is just in the way that the music feels to me.” Unsurprisingly, the album thematically deals with loss, frustration and resiliency through love, friendship and music and of holding on to hope in the most difficult of times. Certainly, while deeply personal, the album will resonate on a universal and personal level to the listener, especially through the transitions that come about as we get older, and in these increasingly desperate and frightening times. From personal experience, I’ve learned that sometimes when things are so unmooring, so painfully difficult, so utterly confusing and uncertain that all anyone can cling to is the small things, the tiny and fleeting joys of life — a kind word or a smile shared among friends, the touch of a lover, the simple presence of a beloved family member, your favorite album, the thin soup of hope that sustains you for another few moments or a few days.

Last month, I wrote about “Sophia,” a song that Alexander noted was recored with the quintet facing each other and playing in the same room, and much like The Verve‘s Urban Hymns, there’s a vital and urgent “you-are-there-in-the-room” feel to the song while sonically the song — to my ears at least — brought JOVM mainstays TV on the Radio and The Veldt to mind. The album’s latest single “Autumn” is an elegiac and atmospheric track centered around a production featuring fuzzily distorted boom bap-like beats, shimmering and arpeggiated synths, equally shimmering guitar chords and Alexander’s plaintive vocals — all of which evoke the ache of loss, the recognition of its permanence, and the hope that there’s something better beyond this mortal realm. 

Directed by Parker Hill, the recently released video for the song is a cinematic and hallucinogenic fever dream full of the familiar lingering ghosts of regret, of things unsaid that should have been said, of time’s endless passing as it follows the band’s lead singer dealing with the loss of a loved one as he returns to a familiar place without him — and throughout there’s the palpable sense that one can never really return home. As the video’s director says in a statement:

“When I first heard Autumn, I immediately felt the song’s sense of complex loss and the possibility of renewal.  We wanted the video to reflect a person’s experiences before they let themselves begin grieving.

It was a dream to shoot with No Kind of Rider in their home city of Portland, OR because I knew the vast and almost eerie pacific northwest setting would help communicate much of the story we wanted to tell.

We crafted the video to be about Sam’s (lead singer) journey of saying goodbye to a loved one as he returns to a familiar place, alone for the first time.

Shooting on the foggy roads leading out to the coast, flanked by looming evergreen trees, we captured Sam amidst a cathartic release as he arrives at the monumental Canon Beach.  The sheer magnitude of nature that he is set against only further reveals the size of his loss.”

Earlier this month, I wrote about the Portland, OR-based indie rock quintet King Who, and as you may recall, the band, comprised of  Michael Young, Ryan Hayes, Ryan Cross, Glen Scheidt and Travis Girton will be releasing their Hutch Harris-produced sophomore full-length album Giant Eye through SELF Group on August 17, 2018. Reportedly, the album finds the band expanding upon their sound as they increasingly incorporate elements of New Wave, post-punk and dream pop  while retaining the heavy bass of their full-length debut Us Lights; in fact, Giant Eye‘s first single, the slow-burning “Ice Cream” sonically finds the band drawing from shoegaze and dream pop as the song is centered around shimmering guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring hook and Micheal Young’s plaintive falsetto, sounding though as it were recorded during the era of 120 Minutes-era alt rock.

Interestingly, Giant Eye‘s second and latest single, “Crying Shame” is centered around a motorik-like groove, four-on-the-floor drumming and Young’s plaintive falsetto, and as a result the song may arguably be the most New Wave-inspired song off the album, sounding as though it were drawing from Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the BunnymenEvil Heat-era Primal Scream and Luminous-era The Horrors, thanks to one of the funkiest rock bass lines I’ve heard this year.

 

New Video: Blackwater Holylight Releases Dark and Creepy Visuals for Anthemic “Wave of Conscience”

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight, and as you may recall, the band which is comprised of founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass) with Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth) can actually trace it origins to when a previous band that Faris was in broke up, and she felt the n could to begin experimenting with what her own version of “heavy” should and could be both sonically and emotionally — all while celebrating vulnerability in all of its forms. Faris adds that because she had long been the only female in many of her bands, she wanted to see how songwriting and vulnerability could glow once they take the drivers seat within a band, and how it is was to work exclusively with women.

The band’s self-titled full-length debut was released earlier this year, and the album’s second single is the Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath power chord-based dirge and strident, feminist anthem “Wave of Conscience,” that finds the band at their most expansive and forcefully self-assured — but while centered around ethereal harmonizing. Interestingly, the recently released video for “Wave of Conscience” is based around found and stock footage of black widow spiders, cartoons, animated movies, and other creepy crawlies attacking and fighting each other. Yes, it’s dark as fuck — and fittingly so.

Comprised of Michael Young, Ryan Hayes, Ryan Cross, Glen Scheidt and Travis Girton, the Portland, OR-based indie rock quintet King Who will be releasing their Hutch Harris-produced sophomore full-length album Giant Eye through SELF Group on August 17, 2018 — and reportedly, the album finds the up-and-coming quintet expanding upon their sound as they increasingly incorporate elements of New Wave, post-punk and dream pop  while retaining the heavy bass of their full-length debut Us Lights. Interestingly, Giant Eye‘s first single, the slow-burning “Ice Cream” sonically finds the band drawing from shoegaze and dream pop as the song is centered around shimmering guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring hook and Micheal Young’s plaintive falsetto — and while the song draws from 120 Minutes-era all rock, it has a clean, modern production sheen that makes the song a bit anachronistic.

 

Patrick Phillips is a Portland, OR-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, DJ and multi-instrumentalist, and creative mastermind behind the dream pop/indie pop/psych pop recording project Water Slice. In some way, the project can trace its origins back to when Philips realized that his life in Portland was beginning to closely resemble an unending Portlandia sketch as he worked at a hip gastropub, played packed local gigs and DJ’ed obscure African music. With that realization, Phillips decide it was time to leave Portland, eventually relocating to Los Angeles. In 2014, he moved into an idyllic artist house located in the hills of the Echo Park section — and as the story goes, Phillips would spend a great deal of time on the house’s rooftop, overlooking the city’s landscape in the shade of a  giant rubber tree, contemplating life and writing songs, partially influenced by his surroundings.

During his first month in town, Phillips met James Supercave‘s Joaquin Pastor and spent the next 2 years as that band’s bassist. After leaving James Supercave, the Portland-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had time to process his past life in Portland and to dive back into his record collection of power-pop, post-punk and world psychedelia — and this period was for him, the definitive spark that led him to write his own material under the moniker Water Slice. Of course, the material he had begun to write drew deeply from his own personal experience — particularly, a lengthy romantic relationship that dissolved and friendships that fell by the wayside (as many do), and the lingering ache and confusion of a past that’s continually just out of reach and the acceptance of a present that barely makes sense.

With the release of “This Way,” the first single off his forthcoming self-titled debut EP, slated for an August 10, 2018 release, Philips quickly received attention for a sound that pairs buoyant and breezy grooves with dark lyrical content. As Philips told Ones to Watch, “Many of my favorite tunes, whether post-punk, power-pop, or reggae, are stories of suffering, while staying undeniably groovy. I love this contrast of heavy lyrics with otherwise sunny music, and I kept this tradition in mind when writing ‘This Way.’ At the time I was stuck deep in a rut, ‘This Way’ is about accepting my flaws and pushing into the future with the people I love.” Interestingly, the EP’s second and latest single “Please Remember” is the only track produced by Gus Seyffert, best known for his work with Roger Waters, Beck, The Black Keys, Dr. Dog and James Supercave, and while the single will further cement Philips’ growing reputation for crafting breezy and buoyant pop with a wistful and nostalgic air; but there’s also an underlying acceptance and celebration of how life seems to constantly shift around you, forcing you to shift lanes, change direction  or stop whatever it was you were doing In the first place. After all, no one really has an answer to anything and nothing really works the way it’s supposed to — and yet, we usually find a way.

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Breezy and Summery Visuals and Sounds of Wooden Shjjips’ Road Trip Anthem “Already Gone”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rockers Wooden Shjips, and as you may recall, although the act is currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the band can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them, centered by the underlying idea that untrained musicians would have a different outlook on what music is and how it’s played, essentially bringing something fresh to to the table in a fashion reminiscent of the garage rockers of the early 60s, the  Velvet Underground and 70s punk rockers did. As the story goes, Dusty Jermier, one of the longest tenured members of the band was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never picked up before while members of earlier iterations of the band frequently had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs. 
Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup but with different intentions. Johnson, who’s a fan of largely impenetrable albums and arcane, small-press poetry books was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. The band had purposely set out to make obscure albums that Johnson envisioned randomly leaving in libraries, thrift store margin bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpectedly, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals in Golden State Park to any and all comers, and the proceeds from the single went to the charitable foundation Food Not Bombs. Adding to a growing profile, the band’s second, real gig found them opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.

The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space, using a half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album a strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered-up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts adding later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records. Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his acclaimed side project Moon Duo, with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams. 

Written last summer, Johnson has publicly said that he has viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic of American life; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.” 

V’s first single ““Staring at the Sun” featured a shimmering guitar pop sound with a steady groove reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out, and “Red Line,” its shoegazer rock meets classic psych rock-inspired follow up single may strike listeners and fans as a bit of return to form, as it features a hypnotic groove — while much like its predecessor, emphasizing slowing, down and pressing the reset button in a world gone absolutely mad. The album’s latest single is the twangy, Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young and Crazy Horse-like “Already Gone” — with a subtle twist to the proceedings, twinkling synths reminiscent of Who Are You-era The Who; but regardless of its influences, it’s the perfect road trip song, as it possesses an overwhelmingly optimistic view, centered on the possibility of new adventures, new friends, of transformation, of being lost and found within the double lines. Unsurprisingly, the recently released video begins with the band’s Johnson getting his bike to ride to the band’s studio space on a glorious day — much like today here in New York — to meet the rest of the band. And of course, they play some hackeysack together — because they’re hippies. But all is right and glorious: bullshitting with your friends and playing music is necessary in a world that’s mad. It’s sometimes the only thing you’ve got.